Since 1994, FOCUS has provided a full spectrum of emergency response activities from first -response to extended relief and recovery support. When FOCUS responds to a disaster, it is able to call upon a pre-positioned pool of volunteers from within the Ismaili Muslim community in the country of the intervention. Harnessing local manpower for packaging, delivering and distributing humanitarian relief provides integral support to staff on the ground and ensures that those in direct contact with affected communities are soundly equipped with local knowledge of the terrain, culture and language.
Most recently, FOCUS has assisted communities affected by some of the world’s most dangerous natural hazards:
October 2005/June 2006 - Earthquake Relief in Pakistan
Over 70,000 individuals lost their lives to the devastating earthquake which hit both Indian and Pakistan administered Kashmir. The worst affected areas were Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Balakot, North West Frontier Province.
Vital food supplies were delivered to vulnerable communities living in inaccessible areas of the Neelum and Jhelum Valleys during the winter months FOCUS immediately engaged its Search and Rescue Teams from Gilgit and Chitral in Islamabad where the Margalla Towers had fallen. After a 24 hour search and rescue operation in collaboration with RAPID UK, the teams moved on to Muzaffarabad to assist with further rescue and relief operations.
Facilitated by four Agusta Bell helicopters belonging to the Aga Khan Foundation, and more than one thousand volunteers, FOCUS commenced its large scale humanitarian relief operations across more than a dozen isolated locations in the Neelum and Jhelum valleys and other vulnerable regions inaccessible by road. Coordinating its relief efforts with the Pakistan Army, FOCUS reached some 150,000 affected individuals who benefited from food, safe drinking water, clothing, shelter, blankets, vital medical aid as well as toys for the youngest affected. Over 1,000 casualties were also transported by helicopter to medical facilities run by Aga Khan Health Services and Aga Khan University Hospital. For more information and continued updates on this humanitarian intervention please see the News Archives.
October 2005 - Earthquake Relief in India
FOCUS volunteers assisting in the delivery and distribution of relief items
in the earthquake affected regions of Indian administered Kashmir Following a detailed assessment in collaboration with NGOs, civil administration, military personnel, community leaders and affected families, FOCUS identified the most vulnerable communities requiring timely humanitarian relief. As shelter and warm clothing to survive the oncoming harsh winter conditions were vital, in the district of Uri in Srinagar, FOCUS distributed family packs which included a winterised tent, blankets, sweaters and thick socks and caps. Volunteers in Mumbai assisted in the packaging of the relief items which were then loaded onto airplanes and trucks for distribution in Uri. The process was facilitated by the Indian Army and Air Force.
September 2005 - Hurricane Rita: Response Interventions in USA
FOCUS volunteers distribute clothing and toys to evacuated families after Hurricanes Rita and Katrina While not as devastating as its predecessor, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita still rendered thousands of Texas residents at least temporarily homeless. Hurricane Rita came ashore on September 24, 2005 just east of Sabine Pass, Texas with a storm surge of 10 feet. It was reported by the news media that over 2.7 million residents of Houston, Galveston and the surrounding coastal areas evacuated ahead of the storm.
FOCUS volunteers, while continuing care of Hurricane Katrina victims, also directed their efforts to hurricane preparedness and evacuations. With assistance from the infrastructure of the Ismaili Muslim community, FOCUS trained volunteers to specifically handle evacuation issues and responses, manned three toll-free lines to address inquiries tracked and facilitated the progress of evacuees from mandatory evacuation areas and assisted with the evacuation of those with special challenges and needs.
August 2005 - Portuguese Forest Fires
The second worst forest fire ever to be recorded in Portugal saw the destruction of over 240,000 hectares of forest. To assist the affected communities in the mountainous district of Guarda, FOCUS collaborated with local government authorities in distributing over one thousand food rations to vulnerable families and continues to assist in livelihood rehabilitation projects.
July 2005 - Severe Flooding in Mumbai and Gujarat
Relief distributions took place in areas severely affected by unprecedented monsoon rains in Mumbai and Gujarat. FOCUS volunteers assisted in the relief effort. in the earthquake affected regions of Indian administered KashmirIn its response to the unprecedented monsoon rains in Maharashtra and Gujarat, FOCUS mobilised local volunteers to assist affected communities. Relief items were distributed to hundreds of families and pesticides and disinfectants were sprayed through some of the affected areas as a preventative measure. Collaborating with Aga Khan Health Service, India and Prince Aly Khan Hospital, Mumbai, FOCUS also provided health checks and psycho-social counselling.
December 2004/February 2005 - Indian Ocean Tsunami
The Indian Ocean tsunami caused widespread loss of lives and livelihoods all along the east coast of India. Reports indicated a death toll of 12,405 in India alone. FOCUS immediately harnessed staff and volunteer manpower to distribute tents, blankets, clothing, torches, and 20,000 litres of safe drinking water to over 4,000 people in Andhra Pradesh, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Tamil Nadu. The airlifted operation was assisted by the Government authorities.
Crisis Response and Disaster Risk Reduction: An Overview of Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS)
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